UN Chief Antonio Guterres is calling for measures to address a "horrifying global surge in domestic violence" directed towards women and girls, linked to lockdowns imposed by governments responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a reference to his repeated appeals for a ceasefire in conflicts around the world, to focus on the shared struggle to overcome the virus, the Secretary-General pointed out that violence is not confined to the battlefield, and that "for many women and girls, the threat looms largest where they should be safest: in their own homes".
The combination of economic and social stresses brought on by the pandemic, as well as restrictions on movement, have dramatically increased the numbers of women and girls facing abuse, in almost all countries, he added. However, even before the global spread of the new coronavirus, statistics showed that a third of women around the world experienced some form of violence in their lives.
Guterres urged all governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19, and outlined several actions that can be taken to improve the situation.
"Together, we can and must prevent violence everywhere, from war zones to people’s homes, as we work to beat COVID-19," the UN Secretary-General concluded.
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